Front-loaded Child Benefit Bill [HL]: HL Bill 6 of 2022–23

The Front-loaded Child Benefit Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Farmer (Conservative). It aims to allow recipients of child benefit to receive, if they wish, a higher rate of child benefit when a child is younger in exchange for a lower rate when the child is older. This would be an alternative to the current system whereby a flat rate is paid throughout childhood. Two thinktanks put forward similar proposals prior to 2010. The bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 8 July 2022.

Front-loaded Child Benefit Bill [HL]: HL Bill 6 of 2022–23

Ash dieback and the health of English trees

Threats to UK trees have risen due to factors such as globalisation and climate change. The government has responded with a tree health resilience strategy, an England trees action plan and an updated plant biosecurity strategy. However, certain pests and diseases remain high-risk, including ash dieback. Several organisations are seeking to breed ash trees that are resilient to the disease and the government has published a strategy for preserving ashes.

Ash dieback and the health of English trees
  • In Focus

    Political opinion polls: Should there be greater oversight?

    The House of Lords Liaison Committee has updated the findings of an earlier ad hoc Lords committee on the issues arising for UK politics from political opinion polling. The Liaison Committee welcomed recent advances in polling techniques and information prepared by the polling industry on how to interpret polls. However, it concluded that the case for greater oversight of polling remained a matter for debate.

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    How should gambling regulation change to reduce gambling harm?

    A House of Lords committee on the gambling industry has called for a series of regulatory reforms to reduce the harm caused by ‘problem gambling’. Since the committee’s report, the Government has launched a wide-ranging review of gambling oversight and is due to publish its conclusions shortly. In the meantime, aspects of gambling regulation continue to evolve.

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    Unpaid taxes: the ‘tax gap’

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) produces estimates of the tax gap—the tax revenue HMRC should receive but does not. Its most recent estimate for 2019/20 is £35 billion, or approximately 5% of total tax liabilities. As a percentage of total taxes, the gap has been declining in recent years. The Government’s tax strategy includes measures to reduce it further. However, some commentators have argued these need more careful consideration.

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    Spring statement 2022: key announcements and analysis

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, presented the 2022 spring statement to the House of Commons on 23 March 2022. He said the measures in the statement would support the British people in dealing with rising costs of living. He announced some changes to the tax system and new spending commitments. Alongside the statement, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published revised forecasts for the economy and the public finances.

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    Pension Schemes (Conversion of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Bill

    The Pension Schemes (Conversion of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Bill is a private member’s bill introduced into the House of Commons by Margaret Ferrier (Independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West). It aims to clarify how occupational pension schemes can convert historic rights to certain pension entitlements into current scheme benefits. In the House of Commons stages both the Government and the Opposition supported the bill.

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    Removal of coronavirus restrictions

    The Government has ended the legal requirements around self-isolation for people who test positive for coronavirus. It has also removed the pandemic-related power for local authorities to restrict certain gatherings. The regulations to effect these changes are scheduled to be debated in the House of Lords on 14 March 2022. The Liberal Democrats have tabled a regret motion that is due to be debated on 17 March 2022.

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    Ukraine sanctions and the Swift system

    There has been extended debate on whether Russia should be banned from the international Swift system as part of the package of economic sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine. On 26 February 2022, the international community announced that selected Russian banks would be barred. This article looks at what Swift is, why it is significant and whether a ban would be likely to achieve its intended effect of restricting the Russian economy.

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    Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill

    The Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill is a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons by Peter Bone (Conservative MP for Wellingborough). It aims to reverse a 2014 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union that expanded the types of vehicles required to have compulsory third-party motor insurance. The bill received Government support in the Commons and the Labour Party did not oppose it. Its second reading in the House of Lords is scheduled to take place on 18 March 2022.

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    Finance (No. 2) Bill

    The Finance (No. 2) Bill is a government bill intended to give lasting statutory effect to tax measures announced both in the October 2021 budget and more recently. The bill underwent a series of changes during its passage through the House of Commons. This briefing summarises these developments and also some of the criticism of the bill’s objectives from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee.

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    Gambling advertising and harm caused by gambling

    For some people, gambling can lead to financial difficulties, deteriorating health, crime and other harms. The links between gambling advertisements and such ‘problem gambling’ have been widely debated. This briefing explores these debates. It also examines the current regulatory regime for gambling advertising and proposals for change.

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